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Why do people "forget" proper training?!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Good Morning,all.

Got a couple of days off and some extra time and this has been an issue that has driven me up a wall since I started long ago as a teenager.

My biggest pet peeve is cleanliness and sanitation.I am psychotic about it.I am known as "The Sanitation ****" in my kitchen.I have irritated the heck out of co-workers through the years because of this obsession,too.

Our profession is of the nurturing variety;food is love and affection in my eyes [I'm Italian].We have a moral and ethical duty to provide wholesome,safe food to our customers.There is no room for negotiation when it comes to safety.

I just can't comprehend why it is so difficult to keep up with this.I've worked with people who know better,but do incredibly stupid and risky things.God forbid that extra few seconds you take will prevent someone from getting sick or shutting the place down.

Example #1 -an Exec I worked under was ACF Certified AND a Certified Culinary Educator,but I watched this man cut 20 lbs. of potatoes directly on the stainless prep table WITHOUT A CUTTING!!!
I guess he wasn't paying attention when it came to "physical contamination".
I said something and he just shrugged his shoulders at me.I left shortly after that.
He was proof that just because you have the letters after your name,you may not be worthy of the title.He just paid his fees,took his tests and got the papers.

Example #2- I was a partner/sous for a private catering company and the owner had worked under some tough chefs and gotten good training,but when she got her own place,she just slacked off.
She also did the "no cutting board" thing,would work till 2am and then just leave the kitchen in a shambles.I'd unlock the door the next morning and have to clean it all up just so I could start what I needed to do.Totally inexcusable!
She would smoke in the kitchen.
Her two children would be allowed to wander about while we were working [I don't care if you own the place;keep them OUT of the kitchen!!].I am also not child-oriented,so it drove me extra-crazy.:crazy:
I could go on,but you get the idea.We would be screaming at each other daily over these things and she would always say "I'm sorry,but what drives you crazy isn't important to me...I don't think about it."
WTF????!!! Profit sharing or not,I got out.I refuse to lower my standards for the sake of money.

Example #3- As with a lot of us,I felt I had to do some time at a Ritz-Carlton.My closest friend and mentor worked at a premier RC in Naples,FL. under CMC McFadden,so I foolishly assumed ALL RC's were run as tightly as he described....guess again!
Even McFadden told him when he left "Be careful,not everyone cares as much as we do here in Naples."
The restaurant/room service kitchen line was poorly set up [22 year old building],so the saute station at the end had no hand sink....and no one EVER set up a sanitizer bucket.Gloves? Don't make me laugh!
So all the fish is coming off of that station,from out of the drawer to made me ill.
The cook on that station was French and was here on a visa..he worked at a couple of Michelin-rated places in France and you knew that he knew better...but he could have cared less.The sous chefs didn't care,either.I'd set up a bucket and it would go untouched.
I saw green steaks in the cooler;no one cared.
Crap on the cooler floor;everyone just stepped over it.
Fish not being iced nightly;oops.
Hollandaise not being held in a steamtable at temp...ah,no big deal.
Well,after some time,I got dragged into the Exec's office [a new one under a two-year contract,also French and with a good reputation,but I think he was simply overwhelmed.It was his first Exec job] and he told me that I "annoyed him" because all I did was point out negative things and what was wrong.
Well,I was pointing it out because it seemed no one gave a crap about it! Call me crazy,but I think my complaints were valid because people are doing dangerous things and worstly,being ALLOWED to.
You just expect better from an RC after spending two days in orientation having smoke blown up your butt about Gold Standards,"Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen",striving for perfection....blah,blah,blah.I guess it depends on the property itself.
It was disheartening,to say the very least.

so,why do people just turn lazy and not do what is right? There's no excuse for it at all.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #2 of 29
You know, judging by the tone of your post, it might not have been WHAT you said about sanitation to your former coworkers, but HOW you said it.

There certainly is an appropriate time and manner with which to address these issues with people who have the power and influence to deal with them

It sounds like you might benefit from being a bit more politic in your approach.

I'm not dismissing your concerns because they are important to the safety of everyone involved. But people on "high horses" tend to be ignored in the flurry of a busy kitchen.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
It took me some time to learn how to deal with different personalities,skill levels,and how to handle each situation.I understand how the tone of my post may be percieved because I was venting,but I do practice much more diplomacy than I have in the past:)

I just lose patience if I have to repeat myself or if I see the same mistakes being done over and over...but I do not demean people or raise my voice.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #4 of 29
This is certainly the place to vent about such thing. I share your concerns.

I recently left a sous-chef job. I was managing 30 or so people, many who had been there 10 or 12 years longer than I had. I trained them on sanitation, and watched them like hawks, and gave them periodic tests (company policy), and though they all know better, they all ignored the principles as soon as my back was turned. Why? They figured in all the years that they've been working in filth, they never poisoned anyone, so all the usual health concerns must be overblown.

That, AND I got no support from the chef. When the municipal inspector would come for a surprise inspection, the chef would get us to quickly put green bucket under our work stations. He was the worst offender, forcing us to serve protein that had expired two weeks ago. I tried to discuss this privately with our Director, but it was no use: he was untouchable. I think guests would be appalled to find out what goes on in an "average" kitchen.

It's an uphill battle anywhere you go. I always figured I would try to push 150% on my staff in order to get 75%. Which I did and it was a huge improvement. But it didn't make me popular. I stopped eating out for a long time after I quit that job, just trying to regain a little bit of my restaurant innocence.

Now I'm an instructor. My students see me wash my hands about 20 times and change my cutting boards 3-4 times during my 2 hour demos. I tell them I won't taste their food unless I know for sure it's been prepared with the utmost care for hygiene. They comply, and no one complains. I wish it were that easy with the hardened "professionals".
post #5 of 29

Boy, this has been my rant for so long! I always try

to get a handle on this with a new crew. But as you guys have stated these are not people new to the business!
I too have gone through periods of not dining out after a time with some of these people.
One guy in particular--never saw him wash his hands!!!!! I said something about hepatitis, his comment-"have anyone ever got hepatitis where you worked?" Jeesh!!
I now work in situations with either a 2nd cook, or just a galley steward and it makes it a bit easier.
Thanks for listening,
post #6 of 29
This issue seems to have such a common thread among the pros it is almost unbelievable. I am a baker in a high end (for this area) market and see un sanitary at a tremendous level.

The person preparing the salad bar, uses the hand wash sink for washing veggies :eek: , she actually drains the water from them against the side of the sink..... uh scuse me isnt that a hand sink? You know better than that, dont you?? BLANK STARE with daggers. She really does not want to walk a few extra feet to the prep sink...

Same girl preparing chicken salad, I watch her gloves completely come apart while picking chicken, ... UH how do you know parts of your gloves are not in the salad??... uh I dunno..I just hope they are not... :eek:

The other baker who knows more than me (only cause he has been there 6mos more than I have... who STILL does not know how to use a bakers scale) told me he hated the gloves we use cause the dough makes em break... "last night we found a piece of my glove in the middle of a baguette"..GIMME A BREAK... I just shook my head AND HE LAUGHED.

I think most of the "offenders" do not care and their bosses simply ALLOW FOR BEING SLACK... totally unacceptable in my opinion.

I have a higher opinion, or am more conciensious.. OR MORE PROFESSIONAL.. than they. BUT it seems the more you correct co workers EVEN IF YOU ARE RIGHT... the more they resent you and isolate you as not being a team player.... sorry I do not want to play for such a nasty I keep to myself. But most want to be accepted and liked by coworkers. When approaching the supervisor, oh heck she is not much better, taking out dated food (moldy cheese) and re wraping it.. putting meats that went out of date on the hot line to use ASAP...:mad:

SO I GUESS Bourdain was not far off in his book...

If only the public knew.
Scott B

As far as the Kitchen goes, it is a long, long day that is never really over, you just go home at some point
Scott B

As far as the Kitchen goes, it is a long, long day that is never really over, you just go home at some point
post #7 of 29
The glove thing bothers me a little. Our stance is that gloves are more dangerous because a) they end up in food or b) they give the worker a false sense of cleanliness and will be less inclined to wash his/her hands often.

If gloves are policy in your bakery, try to get the prison gloves, the blue ones that is. It's more obvious to spot when they shred.

I found out from one of my male co-workers that one of my dishwashers would go to the bathroom WITHOUT removing his dishwashing gloves first. Try dealing with that one!!!!
post #8 of 29
And people wonder why food poisoning is at an all time high? Cross contamination, using out of date food - make you want to choke.

Could perhaps the lack of time spent on sanitation be a result of time pressures? I've only worked as a kitchen hand and dishwasher so come from the lowest end of the food chain in a restaurant, but have seen examples same as above posts. Just wondering too (although its totally wrong to do) is the use of out of date foods from pressures of economy - cooks under pressure from management to keep costs to a minumum?

P.S. I'm not supporting these practices in the least but trying to understand why? Or are these people just plain cheap and lazy...
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #9 of 29
I also think that gloves are overrated. Often times, yes, they are appropriate, but like it was said, it seems to let a lot of people think that they don't need to wash/change more often.

I keep my hands clean, my nails trimmed, my head shaved, etc, and I wash my hands often during prep, and after each rush on the line.

But yeah, sanitation is too lax in a lot of places. I make it a point to try and lead by example.
post #10 of 29
----"cheap and lazy."

Gloves are only cosmetic. They can spread bacteria from one thing to another just as easily as a bare hand.

Just because an establishment gets no complaints about food poisoning, does not mean people do not contract the illness there. It's just very difficult to prove a specific source of the contaigion, or what bacteria is causing it.

Have you read about this chef?
The New York Times > Log In

What a big baby.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #11 of 29
I hate hands sweat, there is nothing like sweat dripping from your wrists. Tongs were made for sweaters. :)
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #12 of 29
Ok-looks like if you don't subscribe to the NY Times, you can't read the article.
Here it is, from the April 21, 2007 issue:

Health Inspector Calls and Chef's Pride Cracks

Published: April 21, 2007
It was 11:59 a.m., according to the report from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The first lunch reservations at Brasserie La Côte Basque, just off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, were about to arrive. The inspector introduced himself to the hostess and headed straight for the kitchen, where he found Jean-Jacques Rachou, the restaurant's owner and chef, at the stove.

Six and a half hours later, the inspector finished his evaluation -- and shut the place down. ''The next morning, we had a yellow sign in the window,'' Mr. Rachou says.

The city Health Department has closed 297 restaurants since the week ending Feb. 24. That was when a scene of rats teeming around a Taco Bell/KFC in Greenwich Village was captured on a widely disseminated videotape, a sight that triggered a tough new round of health department inspections. A vast majority of the restaurants have been reinspected and reopened.

But Mr. Rachou cannot bring himself to reopen the brasserie just yet. Of all the shuttered restaurants, this may be the one with the greatest reputation for the seriousness of its food and the profile of its chef.

While chefs at other restaurants said the brasserie's code violations were fairly routine, the details of its closing reveal a very human clash of agendas and sensibilities, as well as a frustration and heartbreak that cannot be captured in a statistic. Mr. Rachou believes he was made an example of; the city denies that. While the chef's attitude may have played a role, it has certainly complicated the future of a restaurant with a rich pedigree.

The closing was on March 8. On March 30, the restaurant passed a new inspection with flying colors. But Mr. Rachou has yet to reopen; he says he is too depressed: ''The kitchen is ready, but the mind is not yet. Look, first I have to get over it. I need another two weeks to pull myself together. Maybe then.''

In the meantime, his 40 or so employees have been out of work -- or working elsewhere -- and the restaurant has forfeited what industry observers speculate may be around $100,000 per week in revenues.

Mr. Rachou has salt-and-pepper hair (skewing salt) and a mustache, and at 71 he represents the ancien régime of the New York restaurant world as both a mentor over the years to many great chefs and as a stubborn personality type.

Across the regulatory divide from him was the inspector, Lalbachan Sukhu, a civil servant not much more than half Mr. Rachou's age, under orders to leave no bain-marie unturned as he and his colleagues set about to systematically scrutinize every commercial kitchen in town.

Brasserie La Côte Basque, at 60 West 55th Street, is the renamed and more relaxed iteration of La Côte Basque, which Mr. Rachou, a classically trained chef from France, took over in 1979. He said his restaurant's closing last month was a great shock.

''When this happened, I was really destroyed,'' Mr. Rachou said, standing outside the restaurant, which was dark, its bentwood chairs stacked on tables.

''I would say in the city, my kitchen is one of the 10 best,'' Mr. Rachou said. ''If not, it would go against my rules. They made an example of me.''

He added: ''I don't deserve it. Maybe I deserve it. I don't know.''

Restaurateurs and health department officials alike acknowledge that when an inspector calls, tensions run high. ''It can be a deadly experience, and what you don't want to do is let your emotions get away with you,'' said Steve Millington, the general manager of Michael's, the media-crowd hangout a few doors from Brasserie LCB.

''It's like a cop giving you a speeding ticket,'' he said. ''You'll be there until the cows come home. There's almost a petulance to the inspectors. You really need to shut up and be servile to them.''

Mr. Sukhu would not consent to an interview. But Elliott Marcus, associate commissioner of the food safety bureau, said that his inspectors have found the crackdown period demoralizing as well. ''They're not exactly welcomed at these restaurants with open arms,'' he said.

Still, walking into Mr. Rachou's kitchen during lunch service is a little bit like trying to measure the pope's head for a new miter in the middle of high Mass: It struck him as intrusive.

''Apparently, Jean-Jacques did not receive the man the way it should be done,'' said Andre Ihuellou, the brasserie's manager. ''The inspector went around and around the kitchen. He went to the walk-in icebox. Then he made him throw a few ducks in the garbage.''

Ten whole, cooked ducks, in fact, along with six cooked chickens and eight pounds of sausage and lentils, were registered at 48 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and tossed out. The regulation maximum temperature is 41 degrees. Mr. Rachou estimates that he disposed of $50,000 worth of food.

Mr. Rachou recalled: ''I was not very fresh with the inspector. I just make him understand that from 10 o'clock in the morning until 8 o'clock at night I am busy cooking.''

Mr. Sukhu continued his evaluation. Mr. Rachou ignored him. ''They say you are always supposed to accompany the inspector, because maybe you can explain things to him, but I was too busy,'' Mr. Rachou said. ''Next time.''

When Mr. Rachou finished cooking lunch, the inspector was still in the restaurant, sitting in the dining room as he punched information into a hand-held computer.

''I left at 3 o'clock to take my nap, and when I came back three hours later, he was still here,'' Mr. Rachou said. ''I kept coming out of the kitchen: 'You finished?' 'You finished?' He said, 'No, there are some détails.' ''

It was during the restaurant's dinner service that Mr. Sukhu phoned a supervisor -- who, according to the health department's rules, must have spoken to his own supervisor -- and then informed Mr. Rachou's maître d'hôtel that he was going to close the restaurant.

The restaurant's hostess began to cry.

After pleading, Mr. Rachou was allowed to finish serving the customers who were already seated inside the 40-table restaurant. ''But then he made us lock the door,'' he said.

Mr. Sukhu had cited Mr. Rachou's restaurant for 13 health code violations. Many of them were minor -- ''Choking first aid poster not conspicuously displayed in dining area,'' for example, and some cutting boards were noted to be ''badly worn'' -- but they added up to 80 points. A tally of 28 points or more is a failing score.

Brasserie La Côte Basque received 28 points on one violation alone, multiple instances of ''mouse activity'': four dead mice and ''fresh and stale mice excreta observed'' in several storage areas. There were also a few roaches. ''If you lift every can, you find a cockroach,'' Mr. Rachou said. ''It's not a bank, it's a restaurant.''

Although restaurants that receive failing scores are often allowed to remain open while problems are remedied, Mr. Marcus, of the health department, said this one was shut down ''both for the seriousness of some of its violations and because it had a history of violations.'' A department spokesman, Andrew Tucker, said it had failed two other inspections in the past three years.

La Côte Basque's history as a temple of both the haute (cuisine) and the high (society) is grand. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Frank Sinatra and Babe Paley all made the scene, and a chapter of Truman Capote's unfinished novel ''Answered Prayers'' was set there, a barely fictionalized -- and most unkind -- piece of social satire.

As a restaurateur, Mr. Rachou has survived any number of potentially devastating currents, from nouvelle cuisine to the restaurant's move to the West Side in 1995 (its original location was one block east).

Like many institutions burdened with the warhorse label, Mr. Rachou and his restaurant struggled to grow old gracefully. While retaining its share of regulars, the restaurant also feeds a lot of tourists and business travelers. Mr. Rachou's friends and colleagues say he had already been considering retirement, but he describes himself as reluctant.

''That's all I know to do: work, work, work,'' he said. ''Cooking is my life.''

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #13 of 29
Ok a few comments-

Meanwhile, he goes for a 3 hour nap while the inspector is going over his restaurant? Huh?

If it's such a clean and sanitary place, how come all that food had to be thrown out? $50,0000 for 10 ducks, 20 chickens and a pot of sausage and lentils? Come ON! Even retail, it doesn't add up.

This guy is sitting around feeling sorry for himself while he puts 40 people out of work--just because his ego is a little bruised?

Again, what a big baby.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thank you for posting the article,foodnfoto!

I agree he was being a bit of a whiner about it.Sure,I understand pride...but come on! An inspector is the last person you should be throwing attitude at;they are just doing their job [and a thankless one,at that].If they find something that violates the code, isn't THEIR fault,now is it?

Almost as pathetic as Bernard Loiseau shooting himself when his rating went down.

While I know not all French chefs are like this,it just reinforces the walking,talking stereotype of arrogance and "holier than thou" attitude.I have a friend who tells everyone he's French-Canadian because he's embarrassed by that very reputation.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #15 of 29
FrayedKnot, would you please tell me the title of Bourdain's book where he writes about "if only the public knew" about things that happens in some kitchens. I'm very interested.
Thank you in advance!!

post #16 of 29
Kitchen Confidential (and it's SO much more).
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Not to answer for Frayedknot,but it's "Kitchen Confidential".

{Sorry about the's early and I'm not really awake yet!]
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
post #18 of 29
Great article about the NYC chef.
He sounded like a Rocco trainee. The restaurant is burning down in flames around him and he's oblivious to it?

Rule number one is drop everything you're doing when the HI walks in the door. There is no single person more important than the HI when he's in your establishment.

Rule number two. Operate every single minute of every day as if the HI is going to walk in any second.

Rule number three. Treat the HI with respect and use them as a partner in your restaurant. They don't want to close anyone down, they want you to operate safely. Share with them all the neat safe sanitizing things you do, let them know you care and you are trying and you want to work with them....and fix every single problem they bring up as if it's a great idea.

Of curse, all I'll think about is rats every time I go to NYC now...
The Cat Man
post #19 of 29
Yo Cat Man:
JJ Rachou bought his restaurant in 1979 and made it one of the most important restaurants in the city, teaching a legion of the next generation of chefs. I'm not trying to defend the guy because clearly he's out of touch with reality and needs to retire, but he's an old school bad *** who's done more in his career than most of us will ever do. And maybe he was a mentor to someone who was a mentor to Rocco, but he was never any TV idiot chef. He's a stubborn old Frenchie who smokes in his kitchen and ashes on a saucer(yeah, I've seen it first hand when borrowing some milk), but he can make the best terrine you'll ever have. And all I'm saying is we can't just dismiss him because he's a tired old man. Or maybe we can dismiss him, but we can't forget the good things he's done. He's History. With a capital H.
But, of course, you're right about all of your HI rules. You just forgot number 4: when all else fails, ________________.
post #20 of 29
I submit to reality

Cat Man
post #21 of 29

swiss tony

I once worked in a kitchen as a kp as a teenager where a drunk sous chef was taking the legs off turkeys throwing them in the bin in a waist full way. As he usually enjoyed a few drinks before work he accidentally threw the breasts in the large bin at the back of the kitchen. When realising his mistake he got a chair out of the restaurant and dangled a small waiter into the bin and pulled the turkeys out of the sludge at the bottom and washed the meat and cooked it and served it. This was a normal day in this kitchen the Head Chef would have been more upset about food waist than the turkeys getting pulled out of the bin.
post #22 of 29
Thank you very much __Castironchef and AtlTournat__, I will get me "Kitchen Confidential" for sure. It sounds tremendously interesting!!!;)
post #23 of 29


I am a personal chef. Working alone in people's home during the course of a day always makes me wonder if I am being video taped for security reasons. I have always had tremendous respect for Health inspectors. When I start working in new client's home the first think I assume is that I am being video taped for security reasons. I am very careful not to do anything unethical for safety's sake as well as my job security. I picture the health inspecter sitting on top of the refrigerator. It keeps me in check. Whenever I am tempted to do something haphazzardly I picture him up there scribbeling away frantically on his little clipboard. I used to do the same when I still worked in restaurants. I still have nightmares about some of the unhealthy things that I viewed other people doing. I wonder if other chefs have a hard time eating out without watching the kitchen door for fear of viewing the latest code violation.
post #24 of 29

The book

The book is

a must read/reread/reread/etc
post #25 of 29


speaking of re things... re peat re fresh re ta..well we get it

I am all for health inpections.. just not the inspectors. I am a 6'3" 280lb chef and the thing i fear more than the health inspector are the two short ones, the man hater and the napolean.... The rules are the rules but to ding a half day old cutting board? come on... just grin and bare it.. and I DARE YOU to find a critical!
post #26 of 29

hand washing? LOFL!

working with danish "chef" ( culinary student who is at the good chopping stage and decent line cook) owners are danish, and good sweet god! bleach buckets? wtf is that? washing hands after smoking? lol. When im not there to wipe butts just scared about cold side pan rotation, no glove usage, no hands in bleach buckets, gloves? lol.
but still the guy tells me "in Holland we are cleaner" LOFL! a 2nd yr culinary student and still cant wash his hands, I didnt go to culinary school, trained under some badass chefs , but what are they teaching them in europe? I run the kitchen as clean as possible <granted when you in the all know how it works>> but raw is raw and finish is finish, use the buckets at least FFS! my hands still smell like bleach and its been hrs since service
post #27 of 29
Is he danish or Dutch
post #28 of 29
Cooky2 - the book you are looking for is "A Kitchen Confidential - Tales of the Culinary Underbelly"

Gloves: Perception is Truth...if you are in front of guests, they make them feel safe.

Gloves make cooks time to wash your hands? Just put on a glove.

It's like ignoring an STD because there's a condom involved.

post #29 of 29
Cooky I think it's called Kitchen Confidential. I've only read his first two books but I'm pretty sure it's the first one.

I worked as a line cook in a very large chain restaurant in Texas and hoooooo boy! Don't get me started! The sanitation was a huge issue. But even worse than the kitchen brigade was the wait staff! I actually saw guys eating shrimp off of people's plates! I walked into the cooler to grab one of our cakes that were made at the commissary and there was a bite taken out of it and the top chocolate flakes had been eaten off entirely.

It was disgusting! I was raised and taught to cook in part, by my dad who was a marine! Wanna talk about sanitation control?! LOL! Everything had to be broken down at the end of the day and scrubbed. I still remember him on his hands and knees, washing the floor each night. It's never escaped me. Even in my home kitchen, things must be spotless, and food safety is at the forefront! No wonder we don't go out to eat much, right?!
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